Many fans would say Burnley aren’t the most stylish football team to watch. But right now, they’d take watching the Clarets over no football at all.
However, the enforced break from the game does allow fans an opportunity to pause and assess how the season has gone for their favourite teams.
So with that, let’s look at it all; how it’s gone, how it could go when it all starts up again, and what the long-term future might hold for Burnley.
As It Stands
Coming 15th in the previous league season, few expected Burnley to climb back into the top ten. Yet they’ve exceeded expectations again – something we’ve now come to expect from Sean Dyche’s side.
The Clarets are in good form, having not lost in their last five games. They’ve only suffered defeat three times in 2020, fewer times than the likes of Tottenham and Leicester.
Disappointingly, two of those losses came against strugglers Aston Villa and Norwich at Turf Moor – games they were expected to win. Yet they’ve also beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford, and held both Spurs and Arsenal to draws – all impressive results.
Indeed, the Spurs draw means that they sit in tenth, only two wins away from the top five. And a favourable set of fixtures means that they could push for an even higher position, if the remaining matches are played at all.
Injury Status & Potential Returns
Burnley could be boosted by the return of several key players for the last nine fixtures. Striker Ashley Barnes has stepped up his comeback from a groin injury recently and will be fit by 30 April – the date the Premier League has set for resumption. By that date, winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson will also be back from a hamstring issue.
Defender Matthew Lowton and forward Jay Rodriguez could also return in time for the Clarets’ next game, with there being enough recovery time for them to get over their knee injuries.
All four will undoubtedly improve Dyche’s team, as they look to make a late push up the table.
Remaining Fixtures & Season Projection
Even the most optimistic fan wouldn’t expect to see Premier League football back on 30 April – the date set for resuming the season. But if and when it does recommence, Burnley have nine league games to play.
Their remaining league games are listed below. We’ll throw in a result prediction and a projection on what position they’ll finish in for fun, too.
|Manchester City (A)||Lose|
|Crystal Palace (A)||Draw|
|Sheffield United (H)||Draw|
|West Ham (A)||Draw|
Total Points Prediction: 50
Predicted Finish: 10th
Despite the reasonable fixtures ahead, it might be a stretch to put Burnley into contention for the Europa League, but tenth place is still a solid position to finish in.
The four games following the trip to Man City could result in wins for the Clarets, but given their lack of firepower at times, it’s hard to forecast four wins for them, as well as the games being against defensive sides in Palace and Sheffield United.
On the other hand, they will likely pick up wins against Brighton and Norwich, as well as defeats to Liverpool and Man City. But the Old Trafford victory suggests they can shock the top two when fully on their game.
A top-ten finish will be a great placing overall for Dyche’s side, proving you should never tip them for relegation – no matter how tempting.
Player Contract Status
Six Burnley players’ current deals expire on 30 June. Of the group, Irish internationals Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady are likely to be offered extensions. Both have played regularly under Dyche when fit and will probably continue to do so.
However, it’s less clear whether Aaron Lennon and Phil Bardsley will remain at Turf Moor, with both veterans not getting a lot of game time this season. The experienced pair may be allowed to leave, but if the Clarets cannot sign better replacements in the summer, then there’s a chance they will be granted one-year extensions.
As for back-up goalkeepers Joe Hart and Adam Legzdins, they will be expected to leave, with Nick Pope and Bailey Peacock-Farrell firmly established as the first and second-choice in goal for Dyche.
Summer Transfer Plans
One usually does not expect Burnley to spend big on new signings. However, they’ve been interested in Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips for quite some time, and would need to pay a significant fee to sign the 24-year-old. Phillips is thought to cost £20m, which would surpass the Clarets’ transfer record, which was the £15m paid for both Ben Gibson and Chris Wood. He would be a strong addition to their midfield with his passing and defensive abilities.
90min have also exclusively revealed that Dyche’s side are interested in signing youngster Tosin Adarabioyo from Man City, who could add competition for the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee at centre-back. The club have additionally shown interest in young Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, and could take him on a season-long loan deal next season.
Having firmly established themselves as a Premier League club, Burnley should now look to continue progressing into a possible top-ten team, and away from being regularly threatened with relegation.
Yet, significantly smaller resources than other teams around them mean that it’s hard to expect they will be able to replicate top seven finishes, like the seventh-place they achieved two seasons ago.
They should still continue to invest, and improve the quality of their squad as the likes of Mee and Barnes get older. Dwight McNeil proves that they can integrate academy products into the first team, and they should continue to do so, in order to ensure the team will have a bright future and avoid having to pay big sums of money on unproven players.
Given the resources they currently have, Burnley should continue as they are, and keep scouring the Championship for young talent while continuing to finish as high as possible in future seasons at the top division.